Posts Tagged ‘London Photos’

Poplar To Limehouse 1988

Wednesday, January 26th, 2022

Poplar To Limehouse 1988 – my walk continued on the East India Dock Road.

East India Dock Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-51-positive_2400
East India Dock Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-51

From the posters in the window this was clearly a video rental store, a relatively new thing back in 1988 – the first Blockbuster Video store only opened in Dallas, Texas in 1985. Home video recording only began to be popular after the introduction of Betamax in 1975, followed in 1977 by VHS (along with other formats.) By 1988 VHS had become the dominant format.

But my attention was caught by the notice on the door, ‘NO DOGS OR BIKES ALLOWED’ with a very small ‘Thankyou’ and the two bikes (I think a BMX and a racer) flung down on the pavement outside unlocked by their two young owners.

Poplar Labour Party, East India Dock Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-53-positive_2400
Poplar Labour Party, East India Dock Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-53

Poplar Labour Party, led by George Lansbury, gained control of Poplar Borough Council in 1919. Poplar was one of the poorest areas of the country and so rateable values there were low. With councils then being responsible for supporting the unemployed and poor, council rates thus had to be set at a much higher level than in wealthy boroughs, which was clearly unfair on boroughs like Poplar who had so many more people needing support. Their rates were the highest in London, twice as high as in the wealthy borough of Kensington.

Poplar Labour had come into office to make changes, to provide greater support for the poor, to set a higher minimum wage for council workers and to pay women equally to men. When a demand from government came in 1921 to increase contributions for cross-London authorities Poplar council refused to pay, instead voting to use the money for the local poor. The authorities took them to court, and 30 councillors marched there with two thousand supporters. All of the councillors were sentenced to prison, where one of the six women, Minnie Lansbury, died, only 32.

Public outcry with large demonstrations and some riots – and other councils following Poplar’s lead – led to the councillors being released with an Act being rushed through Parliament to make the system more fair, with richer boroughs contributing more and the poorer less.

Their protest had clearly been illegal, but was clearly justified, and it led to a much-needed reform. It’s a lesson which still has relevance, particularly with such current matters as statues and the Government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

Richard Green, statue, Poplar Baths, East India Dock Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-54-positive_2400
Richard Green, statue, Poplar Baths, East India Dock Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-54

The statue of Richard Green still stands outside Poplar Baths, a Grade II listed building from 1933, replacing an earlier baths from 1852. The baths were largely to provide washing facilities when few homes had bathrooms in this poor area of the city. As well as ‘slipper baths’ there were also vapour baths, showers and laundry facilities. The new baths in 1933 was a huge building including these facilities and two swimming pools, the larger of which could be covered over and used as a dance hall, theatre and sports hall.

The baths reopened in 1947 after the war despite considerable damage and was closed and converted into a training centre in 1988. My picture from 1988 shows a board advertising the support of the London Docklands Development Corporation in providing disabled access.

The building later became derelict but after a strong local and national campaign for its restoration work began on its redevelopment in 2014 and it reopened again as Poplar Baths Leisure Centre and Gym, along with 100 new homes, in 2016.

Richard Green (1803-63) was a local shipowner, shipbuilder and philanthropist, supporting a Sailors’ Home, schools, an orphanage and hospitals in the area, some of which had been founded by his father, George Green. His Blackwall Yard built many ships for the East India Company and for trade with Australia and China. His company, R & H Green in 1919 joined with Silley Weir as R. and H. Green and Silley Weir, with large premises at the Royal Albert dry docks and others and continued in business until sold to become a part of the government owned River Thames Shipbuilders in 1977.

George Green School, East India Dock Rd, Sturry St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-43-positive_2400
George Green School, East India Dock Rd, Sturry St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-43

George Green (1767-1849) was the father of Richard Green whose statue with his dog still sits outside Poplar Baths. George married the boss’s daughter and made the reputation of the Blackwall Shipbuilding Yard, building many whalers.

As well as this school dating from 1828 on the East India Dock Road the older Green also endowed schools in Chrisp Street and Bow Lane. The current huilding from 1883 is part of Tower Hamlets College. George Green School in new buildings on Manchester Road became the secondary school for the Isle of Dogs with its first comprehensive intake in 1975.

Poplar Recreation Ground Memorial, schoolchildren, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-44-positive_2400
Poplar Recreation Ground Memorial, schoolchildren, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-44

The War memorial to the children of Upper North Street School is https://britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/101065215-war-memorial-to-the-children-of-upper-north-street-school-poplar-ward Grade II* listed and includes the inscription: ‘IN MEMORY OF/ 18 CHILDREN/ WHO WERE KILLED/ BY A BOMB/ DROPPED FROM A/ GERMAN AEROPLANE/ UPON THE L.C.C./ SCHOOL UPPER/ NORTH STREET/ POPLAR ON THE/ 13TH OF JUNE 1917./ ALFRED H. WARREN O.B.E./ MAYOR/ J. BUTEUX SKEGGS,/ TOWN CLERK. ‘

There is a fuller story at the link above about the first mass German raid on London by Gotha bombers on 13 June 1917 which killed 162, including these 18 children mainly aged 5 or 6. At least 37 other children at the school were among the 432 injured by the raid.

St Mathias, church, Woodstock Terrace, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-45-positive_2400
St Mathias, church, Woodstock Terrace, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-45

St Mathias Church is also Grade II* listed, with a number of Grade II listed monuments. Poplar’s oldest church, it was built in 1766 as the Chapel of the East India Company, and became St Mathias as a parish church in 1866. You can see the company’s arms in the roof, and allegedly its columns came from wrecks of the Spanish Armada.

The exterior of the church was altered and enlarged by Teulon in 1875. The church closed in 1976 and was restored for community use by the LDDC in 1990.

Grieg House, Garford St, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-36-positive_2400
Grieg House, Garford St, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-36

Built in 1902–3 as an officers’ annexe to the Scandinavian Sailors’ Temperance Home, founded by Swedish Free Church missionary Agnes Hedenstrom (1849–1928) who began her mission in the East End in the 1870s, opening the home here in 1888. The mission was taken over by the Salvation Army in 1930.

This was I think the last picture I took on my way to Westferry station where I returned a couple of days later for another walk – and the subject of a later post.


Click on any image to see a larger version in my album 1988 London Photos from where you can browse other images.


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More Poplar 1988

Sunday, January 23rd, 2022

More Poplar 1988 continues my walk Limehouse, Isle of Dogs & Poplar.

Chaplain’s house, East India Company, Poplar High St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 198888-7p-31-positive_2400
Chaplain’s house, East India Company, Poplar High St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 198888-7p-31

The Survey of London has a long story about this house at 115 Poplar High Street, now a private residence oddly called Meridian House and built together with 26 new almshouses by the East India Company in 1801-2. They had first set up almshouses in Poplar for disabled and retired employees and their widows and orphans in1626, built partly using money seized from the estate of Hugh Greete after his death in 1619. Greete had been discovered to have been swindling the company while trading Indian diamonds and they seized his assets.

The old almshouse was demolished in 1802 replaced by the new buildings. After the Crown took direct control of India in 1858 the government took over these buildings as Poplar Marine Hospital, selling all except the chaplain’s house, burial ground and chapel to Poplar District Board of Works in 1866. They demolished the almshouses to become Poplar Recreation Ground.

The chapel became the Church of St Matthias with the Chaplains house as its vicarage – and it was further enlarged in the following years. When St Matthias was closed in 1976 the house was sold to become a private residence.

Former District Board of Works Offices, Poplar High St, Woodstock Terrace,  Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-32-positive_2400
Former District Board of Works Offices, Poplar High St, Woodstock Terrace, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-32

This Grade II listed building from 1869-70 for the Poplar District Board of Works was the result of a competition for designs which attracted 43 entries and considerable controversy when the prize went to Walter Augustus Hills (c1834–1917) and Thomas Wayland Fletcher (1833–1901) of Bow, both former assistant surveyors to the board. One architectual magazine at the time described it as ‘terribly ugly’. They were obliged to cooperate with the second place pair of Arthur and Christopher Harston over a final design. Once constructed the building was found to have various problems, not least that in the boardroom ‘reverberation was so excessive as to make the speaker almost incomprehensible’.

Various alterations were made and in 1900 the building became the town hall of the new Metropolitan Borough of Poplar, who extended it and then replaced it in 1038 by a new town hall in Bow. It continued in various uses by the council and in 1987 became the Borough of Tower Hamlets’s Directorate of Housing.

Poplar High St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-34-positive_2400
Poplar High St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-34

This small paved area is just off the High St between Norwood House and Holmsdale House and the block in the centre of the picture is Constant House on Harrow Lane, built by Poplar Council in 1936-7designed by the Borough Engineer and Surveyor, Rees J Williams. Both Holmsdale and Constant House were rehabilitated in 1986-7, with more work in recent years. Norwood House was added in the late 1960s and this paved area looks as if it may date from then.

Holmsdale House,  Poplar High St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-36-positive_2400
Holmsdale House, Poplar High St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-36

A similar style block to Constant House, also built for Poplar Council in 1937-8, designed by Rees J Williams.

The Resolute, pub, Harrow Lane, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-21-positive_2400
The Resolute, pub, Harrow Lane, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-21

Built in 1937 on the corner of Poplar High St and Harrow Lane, to replace an earlier pub the Resolute survived until closed and demolished in 2011. The pub on this site was The Harrow from 1797 (or earlier) until renamed the Resolute Tavern around 1881.

The best-known ship of this name was fitted out for arctic service at nearby Blackwall Yard in 1850 and made several trips to the Arctic searching for the lost expedition of Sir John Franklin who had been searching for a North West Passage. Finally the Resolute got stuck in ice and was abandoned in May 1854, the crew escaping across the ice to a relief fleet.

The ship was found drifting by an American whaler over a thousand miles from where she was abandoned in September 1855 in perfect order and was sailed back to New London, Connecticut, arriving on Christmas Eve. Eventually she was bought by the US Congress, refitted and sailed back to be presented to Queen Victoria and rejoining the navy. The Resolute was retired from the Navy in 1879, possibly at the time the pub was renamed. Some of her timbers were then used to create a substantial desk presented by Queen Victoria to US President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1880. Moved out for some years it has been back in use by most presidents in the Oval Office since being replaced there by Jimmy Carter.

East End Snooker and Social Club, East India Dock Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-01-positive_2400
East End Snooker and Social Club, East India Dock Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-01

This club was at 253 East India Dock Road and has since been converted into Poplar Central Mosque.

Blackwall Tunnel Approach, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-65-positive_2400
Blackwall Tunnel Approach, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-65

The crunched rear end of D814 VRG presumably had its match on the front end of A506 DMX, but at least it appeared that there were no casualites in the collision at the north end of the Blackwall Tunnel, viewed by me from Poplar High St. A sign a little down the road says ‘Welcome to Tower Hamlets‘ though I think most of the tunnel is in the borough. At left is the unmistakable profile of Erno Goldfinger’s Balfron Tower, built in 1965-6 for the GLC and recently stolen from its residents by Poplar HARCA housing association and sold as luxury housing.

Follett St Seamen's Mission, Follett St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-66-positive_2400
Follett St Seamen’s Mission, Follett St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-66

Just on the edge of the elaborate interchange between the East India Dock Road and the Blackwall Tunnel Approach is this small Seamen’s Mission, built in 1898 a Christ Church House and a part of the St Frideswide’s Mission House Conservation Area, but this building only locally listed. The mission here was set up by members of Christ Church College Oxford who in 1881 decided to support missions in the East End. Now converted into six flats.

My 1988 walk in Poplar will continue in a later post.


Limehouse, Isle of Dogs & Poplar

Friday, January 21st, 2022

Emmett St, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-63-positive_2400
Emmett St, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-63

Limehouse, Isle of Dogs & Poplar

This post starts where my previous post on the walk left off, on Emmett Street, no longer present, a victim of both the Limehouse Link tunnel and the edge of the Canary Wharf development at Westferry Circus. I think it this was taken just a little further south than the previous picture and the view between buidlings with several cranes is to the luxury flats being built on the Limehouse bank of the Thames.

Westferry Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-65-positive_2400
Westferry Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-65

A little further south on Westferry Road, with the high dock wall at the left and Cascades Tower, designed by the architects Campbell, Zogolovitch, Wilkinson and Gough (CZWG) in the distance ahead. This unusual block of luxury flats built in 1985–88 was the first private high rise block in Docklands. Going down Westferry Road was entering a huge building site – and the graffiti on the bus shelter states WORLDEXIT (though its actually where a bus would take you back into the world.) When built the flats were almost impossible to sell or rent and Tower Hamlets council let them to teachers at £17 a week. Now they are rather more expensive, at around £400 per week for a one bed flat, and selling for around £500,000 and no teachers can afford to live there.

I think the slight rise in the road, which also bends slightly is possibly the former Limehouse Basin entrance and this section of Westferry Road was perhaps what had previously been Bridge Road.

Westferry Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-66-positive_2400
Westferry Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-66

George Baker & Sons (Millwall) Ltd, builders and joiners, were according to the Survey of London only at this site from 1985 until it was cleared in 1987-8. But the name here looks older and this is the remains of a fairly elegant three-storey building, a photograph of which from 1987 is in the Survey of London. It was built on what was then Emmett St in the 1860s for Thomas Dominick James Teighe and Frederick Smith, sailmakers and ship-chandlers, and from 1902 to the early 1980s occupied by Fitch & Son, provision merchants.

Westferry Rd, Isle of Dogs, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-53-positive_2400
Westferry Rd, Isle of Dogs, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-53

Considerable building work taking place close to Westferry Circus, with Cascades Tower visible in the distance.

South Dock Entrance, Westferry Rd, Isle of Dogs, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-41-positive_2400
South Dock Entrance, Westferry Rd, Isle of Dogs, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-41

Sand and gravel works on the north side of the former South Dock Entrance, with a view across the River Thames to Columbia Wharf in Rotherhithe.

Westferry Rd, Isle of Dogs, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-43-positive_2400
Westferry Rd, Isle of Dogs, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-43

A bus stop at left on Westferry Road, the Island Car Service, much needed as the bus service was poor and unreliable and Timber Merchant John Lenanton & Sons Ltd on the corner of Manilla St, with the Anchor & Hope public house part visible at the right edge, and behind one of the towers of the Barkantine Estate. The car service was in the shop at 31 which for many years was Wooding’s newsagents. The Anchor & Hope had been opened since at least the 1820s, and possibly as it until recently stated on its frontage was established 1787. The building is still there though it closed as a pub in 2005. It was extensively refurbished for residential use in 2015 and the ground floor later became a gym.

Ming St, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-44-positive_2400
Ming St, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-44

I walked back north to Ming St in Poplar, part of London’s first Chinatown, and renamed to reflect this in 1938 when many of London’s streets were renamed to avoid confusion – previously it had been since 1820 one of many King Streets. This was part of the Limehouse of Sax Rohmer‘s racist imaginings of opium dens and crime in his 18 book Dr Fu Manchu series, begun in 1913 and continued after Rohmers death by his biographer and assistant Cay Van Ash.

His work brought wealthy upper-class slum-tourists to the area, where they perhaps enjoyed meals in restaurants such as Wah Ying, but they will have found little evidence of Fu Manchu and his team of assassins, human traffickers and drug traders of the dreaded Sci-Fan secret society. Chinatown was one of the more law-abiding areas of the East End, and the Chinese certainly more law abiding than most.

Ming St, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-45-positive_2400
Ming St, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-45

The Peking was another remnant of the Chinatown past, mostly now moved away to Soho, though there is still a Chinese restaurant on the East India Dock Road, along with the Chun Yee Society. Dockland Light Railway trains now run across the bridge in the distance. The building at right with a dome was Charlie Brown’s pub on West India Dock Road. All this is now demolished.

The White Horse, pub, Saltwell St, Poplar High St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-46-positive_2400
The White Horse, pub, Saltwell St, Poplar High St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-46

Going east along Ming St takes you to Poplar High St, and on the corner of Saltwell St where the High Street begins you can still see a large white horse on top of a wooden post, though it seems rather smaller now than in my picture, and is closer to the street corner. There had been a White Horse pub on this site since 1690 though I think the building in this picture is probably from the 1920s when it was taken over by Truman’s Brewery. They sold it in 2003 and it was demolished and replaced by a block of flats. According to the Lost Pubs Project,  “In 1740 it was, scandalously, run by a Mr & Mrs Howes, both of whom were actually female. ”

The horse was Grade II listed in 1973 and has the shortest listing text I’ve come across: “C18 wooden carving of a white horse on post in forecourt.” The lower part of the sign with the pub name fell down and has been removed, but the horse has been repainted since my picture.


Click on any of the images to see a larger version in my album 1988 London Photos from where you can browse the album.


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Church, Pyramid, Star of the East – More Limehouse

Saturday, January 15th, 2022

St Anne's Church, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-32-positive_2400
St Anne’s Church, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-32

Church, Pyramid, Star of the East – More Limehouse
My walk around Limehouse came back to the area I think of as its heart, close to St Anne’s Church, one of the Queen Anne Churches built after the 1711 Act of Parliament and consecrated in 1730. St Anne’s is one of the six London churches by Nicholas Hawksmoor along with St Alfege’s Greenwich, St George’ Bloomsbury, Christ Church, Spitalfields, St George in the East Wapping andhis only church in the City of London, St Mary Woolnoth.


St Anne's Churchyard, St Anne's Passage, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7o-34-positive_2400
St Anne’s Churchyard, St Anne’s Passage, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-34

I turned my back on the church to photograph the entrance gate to the churchyard.

Limehouse Pyramid, St Anne's Church, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7o-36-positive_2400
Limehouse Pyramid, St Anne’s Church, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-36

The church has featured in many books and publications, including the work of psychogeographers and other more esoteric and mystical writers, and seems to have a special place in the works of believers in ley lines. I’ve not read or seen the film ‘Dark Lines Of London’, but a web page claims to give “Factual Information That Provides the Backdrop to the Story” and includes descriptions and photographs of 10 sites, all from centuries after that in which the story is set, along “a real ley line” one of which is this “Wisdom Of Solomon” Pyramid.

Princes Lodge, Commercial Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7o-22-positive_2400
Princes Lodge, Commercial Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-22

THE 4TH CONFERENCE of the Situationist International was held in London, at a secret address in the East End, 24-28 September 1960, seventeen months after the Munich Conference (April 1959). The situationists assembled in London were: Debord, Jacqueline de Jong, Jorn, Kotányi, Katja Lindell, Jörgen Nash, Prem, Sturm, Maurice Wyckaert and H.P. Zimmer. In fact, to ensure that the proceedings were kept well away from any contact with London journalists or artistic circles, the conference took place at the British Sailors Society hall in Limehouse, “an area famous for its criminals”.

Internationale Situationniste #5

Star of the East, Commercial Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7o-23-positive_2400
Star of the East, Commercial Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-23

Built in the early 19th century and Grade II listed the Star of the East was serving beer at least from 1845. More recently the building had deteriorated and closed as a pub around 2010, was reopened a couple of years later but closed again in 2016. The pub was then taken over and refurbished by the Old Spot Pub Co, who run around a dozen pubs re-opening again in 2019.

Star of the East, Commercial Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7o-11-positive_2400
Star of the East, Commercial Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-11

You can read more about its recent transformation and see some photographs from London Pub Explorer. I’ve yet to return to see for myself. Back in 1988 part of the building was a separate restaurant, but I think the pub now occupies the whole building. The refurbishment appears to have kept at least some of the original interior features.

Three Colts Lane, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7o-14-positive_2400
Three Colt St, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-14

Three Colt St, which has St Anne’s Church at its northern end is one of the oldest roads in the area, part of the route from Limehouse to Stepney and first recorded in 1362. In the Victorian era it was flanked by a number of shops and was something of a middle-class enclave surrounded on both sides by extreme poverty. Little remains from those times. The building here is the former London and Blackwall Railway station, probably dating from the opening of the railway in 1840. The station closed in 1926, but the line remained in use for goods traffic until the 1960s. When the line was reused for the Docklands Light Railway in 1987, Westferry station was built around 300 yards to the east.

Emmett St, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-16-positive_2400
Emmett St, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-16

Not only this building but the street that it was in have disappeared since I made this picture. Emmett St was at the end of Three Colt St, roughly where the Limehouse Link tunnel entrance is now. Construction of the tunnel began in November 1989 and the project was officially opened in May 1993, at £293,000,000 the most expensive per mile road scheme ever built in the UK, a huge public subsidy to the Canary Wharf redevelopment.

When Mucho Macho released ‘The Limehouse Link’ in 1998 it had one of my pictures wrapped around both the CD and the 12″ LP, where it looked rather more impressive. But this image was from Poplar – and this is the full image from the Urban Landscapes web site and doesn’t show the Limehouse Link at all.


Clicking on any of the black and white images above will take you to a larger version in my 1988 London Photos from where you can browse the album.


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Blessing the Thames & Southwark Walk

Friday, January 14th, 2022

The Bishop of Woolwich throws a wooden cross into the River Thames to bless the waters. 

Sunday 14th January 2007 was a pleasant day for me. The weather was good, a bright winter day and I was up in London to photograph a very positive event, the Blessing of the River Thames, with plenty of time too for me to wander around one of my favourite areas of the city, south of the river in Southwark.

In the first ten years of this millennium I photographed a wide range of religious events that take place on the streets of London, particularly by Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims. But there seem to be rather fewer Christian festivals that are celebrated in public, though I think there have been more in recent years, with more public events in particular each year on Good Friday.

The procession comes from Southwark Cathedral

But the Blessing of the Thames is a recent addition, begun in 2004 by Father Philip Warner when he was appointed to the City of London church of St Magnus The Martyr, inspired by similar ceremonies he had experienced in the Orthodox Church in Serbia.

And is met by those from St Magnus at the centre of the bridge

St Magnus The Martyr was Sir Christopher Wren’s most expensive parish church and the traveller’s route into the City of London across the medieval London Bridge, in use from 1209 to 1831 led directly through its entrance porch under its tower after the church was rebuilt around 1676. Until 1729 when Putney got a bridge it was the only way across the river except by boat downstream of Kingston Bridge.

The church is one of the most interesting in London and well worth a visit, and among its treasures includes a very large modern model of the Old London Bridge. This was completed by ex-policeman David T Aggett in 1987, a year after his heart transplant, and found a willing home here after the Museum of London turned it down. A member and past Steward of the Worshipful Company of Plumbers, Aggett died a year ago at the age of 91.

You can find out more about the various editions of London Bridge from various bloggers including Laura Porter on Londontopia. Close to the south end of the bridge (which had a chapel on it dedicated to St Thomas which was the official start of pilgrimages to Canterbury) was the Church of St Saviour and St Mary Overie, until the dissolution in 1538 part of Southwark Priory and since 1905 Southwark Cathedral.

Processions from both churches met at the centre of the new London Bridge completed in 1972 for a brief service with prayers for all those who work on the river and in particular for those killed close to this point in the 1989 sinking of the marchioness close by, which climaxed with the Bishop of Woolwich throwing a wooden cross into the River Thames to bless the waters.

Ofra Zimballsta, Climbers, 1996-8, Borough High St

I’d come up earlier to take a walk around Southwark and Bermondsey and photograph some of the buildings, both old and new, in the area. Back in the 1990s when Desk Top Publishing was in its infancy I had written and published a walk leaflet (now a free download though a little out of date) on West Bermondsey which sold several hundred copies, and it was interesting to visit a part of this again.

#

When first produced, this walk was printed on a dot-matrix printer, though later copies were made on a black and white laser – an HP Laserjet 1100 still in use over 20 years later on my wife’s computer running Ubuntu.

I think I asked 20p for the leaflet, and using cheap third-party laser toners on cheap thin card it cost only a couple of pence to produce, though printing on dot-matrix was slow the laser speeded up things considerably – once the page was in printer memory it rattled off copies fairly quickly.

In 2007 there were few photographers at the Blessing of the River, but blogging was growing fast and more and more people were using camera phones. The following year I wasn’t able to get such good pictures as there were too many people jumping in front of me and obscuring my view. Photographers do sometimes get in each other’s way, but we do try to respect others, something which doesn’t even seem to occur to the newcomers.

But rather than go for a walk I did go with those celebrating the event and have lunch in the crypt of St Magnus, after which I took a few pictures inside the church, then rather thick with incense.

Scroll down the January 2007 page on My London Diary for more pictures of Blessing the Thames & Southwark Walk.


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Limehouse, Horses, Graffiti & Canal

Thursday, January 13th, 2022
Commercial Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7n-23-positive_2400
Commercial Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7n-23

Limehouse, Horses, Graffiti & Canal

This terrace at 582-588 is still there, considerably restored, with the wrought iron railings now continuing in front of 588, but the two storey building beyond the traffic lights for Branch Road, here with a sign GEC Mowlem Railway Group and on its roof the former occupants, scrap metal firm 600 Group has been replaced by a tall I think 12 storey block, the Zenith building, one of the new buildings on Commercial Road with views over Limehouse Basin. Mowlem had presumably been there for the conversion of the old railway line along the viaduct next to the basin into the recently opened Docklands Light Railway.

Clemence St,  Limehouse,Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7n-11-positive_2400
Clemence St, Limehouse,Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7n-11

My notes say that this slender detached house with doorway and detailing that could have graced a rather grander residence was on Clemence Street, and I’ve no particular reason to doubt them, but it may have been in a neighbouring street. I didn’t hear any neighing from the two horses heads in the picture.

G Fawkes Is Innocent, Turners Rd, Limehouse,Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7n-12-positive_2400
G Fawkes Is Innocent, Turners Rd, Limehouse,Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7n-12

‘G.FAWKES IS. INNOCENT’ is I think a play on the iconic East End graffiti about George Davis, who was framed by Det Sgt Mathews for an armed robbery at the London Electricity Board’s offices in Ilford, Essex in 1974, for which he was sentenced to 20 years in jail. Eventually in 2011 he won his appeal against that verdict. He was imprisoned for other crimes, but never protested his innocence after being convicted. Guy Fawkes, often said to be the only person to enter Parliament with honest intentions was tortured terribly and fell from the scaffold on which he was to be hanged, breaking his neck and thus avoiding being hung, drawn and quartered but is celebrated by being burnt on bonfires every 5th November in an anti-Catholic celebration.

Rhodeswell Rd, Turners Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-61-positive_2400
Rhodeswell Rd, Turners Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-61

The same building as the picture above but showing its Rhodeswell Rd side and terraced houses down Turners Road. The terrace has surviced, but the building at the left and the empty site at right have both been replaced by new housing.

Turners Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7o-62-positive_2400
Turners Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-62

All of the houses on the north side of Turners Road here have been demolished and replaced by new housing. The terraced houses have equally small but much neater front gardens. No 43 here has the house name ‘City View’.

Copenhagen Place, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7o-56-positive_2400
Copenhagen Place, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-56

One of several small alleys leading off from Copenhagen Place which I think have disappeared, although there is a short cobbled section leading off to Carmine Wharf, and another yard – clearly not this one – at the rear of properties on Pixley St. But most of the area has been completely redeveloped since I made this picture.

Limehouse Cut, Burdett Rd, LImehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7o-41-positive_2400
Limehouse Cut, Burdett Rd, LImehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-41

The Limehouse Cut is the oldest canal in London, first dug in 1770 but widened a few years later to allow barges to pass each other and travel in both directions. Later it was widened to the current width. It provided a route from the Lea Navigation to the River Thames avoiding the convoluted meandering of the tidal Bow Creek and initially had its own basin and entrance lock to the Thames in Limehouse, although the canal was still tidal, at the level of Bow Locks. In 1854 the basin was linked to the nearby Regents Canal Dock but after a legal dispute because bargees didn’t like the Regents Canal terms this was filled in a few years later and only restored in 1968, after which the lock and short length of the cut leader to the Thames were filled in.

Last's Wharf, Burdett Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-42-positive_2400
Last’s Wharf, Burdett Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-42

310 Burdett Road is now the Royal Mail Delivery Office in Docklands, on the large site of Last’s Wharf leading down to the Limehouse Cut. The picture of the Cut from the Burdett Road Bridge above is looking roughly west, and the different constructions of the bank of the canal remains recognisable but nothing else in the picture from 1988 remains.

My walk will continue in a later post.


Clicking on any of the images will take you to a larger version in the album 1988 London Photos, from where you can browse the other pictures, though in a different order to this post which has them in the order I made them.


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Stratford, Woolwich & Chelsea

Monday, January 10th, 2022

Stratford, Woolwich & Chelsea
Perhaps the only thing these three parts of London really have in common was that I photographed in them in the last few days of July 1988. The first two were on a family visit to the railway museum then at North Woolwich station, largely for the benefit on my two sons, then aged 12 and 9, and both with a real interest in railways and had decide on this as a birthday outing for the elder. I think we probably had a few of their friends with us, some in the second picture below.

Stratford Station, Stratford, Newham, 1988 88-7m-34-positive_2400
Stratford Station, Stratford, Newham, 1988 88-7m-34

North London Line, Stratford Station, Stratford, Newham, 1988 88-7m-35-positive_2400
North London Line, Stratford Station, Stratford, Newham, 1988 88-7m-35

And once we were in North Woolwich it would have been a shame to miss the free ride across the River Thames on the Woolwich Ferry. One of their favourite books when younger had been Alfie and the Ferryboat, by Charles Keeping, published in 1968 Keeping, born close the the Thames in Lambeth tells the story of a small boy from Woolwich crossing the river on the ferryboat to ‘the other side of the world’ in search of his old sailor friend Bunty and his dog.

Woolwich Ferry, North Woolwich, Newham, 1988 88-7m-24-positive_2400
Woolwich Ferry, North Woolwich, Newham, 1988 88-7m-24

Keeping was a superb and innovative illustrator and the book is perhaps his best work. Copies of it are now hard to find and rather expensive.

Woolwich, Greenwich, 1988 88-7m-12-positive_2400
Woolwich, Greenwich, 1988 88-7m-12

The ferry that Alfie took was one of the same that we took, which were introduced in 1963 – the John Burns, Ernest Bevin and James Newman, double-ended ships with powerful diesel engines which were replaced in 2018 after 55 years on the run.

I only made twelve black and white pictures on this trip, along with three in colour, probably too occupied with herding 12 year-old boys than photography, and getting them all back to a birthday tea on the other side of London.

Moorings, River Thames,Cheyne Walk, Worlds End, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-7m-14-positive_2400
Moorings, River Thames, Cheyne Walk, Worlds End, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-7m-14

Days are long in July, and four days later I began taking pictures on Battersea Brdige and then a short walk in Chelsea.

Crosby Hall, Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-7n-02-positive_2400
Crosby Hall, Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-7n-02

Probably I had looked at pictures I had taken earlier in the year and decided there were some I would like to retake, or perhaps found some things I had missed. I spent a lot of time on researching the areas I was photographing, which was much harder before the days of the world wide web – and many of the books I had to rely on were years out of date, often pre-war or even older.

Sir Hans Sloane, memorial, Chelsea Old Church, Cheyne Walk , Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-7n-62-positive_2400
Sir Hans Sloane, memorial, Chelsea Old Church, Cheyne Walk , Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-7n-62

I think I may not have got a picture – or not one I liked of this memorial to Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753), an Anglo-Irish doctor and collector who travelled widely to France and the Caribbean, where he supposedly invented drinking chocolate as well as giving a harrowing account of the sadistic punishments inflicted on slaves and married the wealthy widow of one of the larger slave owners.

Her money from slavery and his income from a doctor and investments in property and slave trading companies enabled him to build up a collection of 71,000 items which he left to the British Nation. These provided the foundation of the British Museum, the British Library and the Natural History Museum.

Christchurch St, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-7n-55-positive_2400
Christchurch St, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-7n-55

But after taking around thirty pictures the next (not on-line) shows a view from the back of two women on a station escalator, with the next frame on the Commercial Road in Limehouse. I think I will have taken the Underground from Sloane Square to Tower Hill and walked to Tower Gateway for the DLR which had opened in 1987 to Limehouse. But pictures from my longer walk from there will be in a further post.


Click on any of the pictures to see a larger version in my album 1988 London Photos, from where you can browse the rest of the album.


Belsize Park Hampstead 1988

Saturday, January 8th, 2022

Belsize Park, Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7m-02-positive_2400
Belsize Park, Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7m-02

Belsize Park Hampstead 1988
Belsize is a confusing area for the casual wanderer and many of the streets have ‘Belsize’ in their name, including Belsize Avenue, Belsize Court, Belsize Crescent, Belsize Gardens, Belsize Grove, Belsize Lane, Belsize Mews, Belsize Park, Belsize Park Gardens, Belsize Place, Belsize Square, and Belsize Terrace.

Belsize Park, Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7m-04-positive_2400
Belsize Park, Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7m-04

I’m not entirely sure whether my captions place all of the houses that are featured in exactly the correct Belsize street, though I’ve tried hard to get them correct. But many of these streets are lined with very similar houses by the same developer – or rather they fall into two groups, the stucco and the later red-brick.

Belsize Park, Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7m-61-positive_2400
Belsize Park, Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7m-61

As my previous post Hampstead & Belsize 1988 stated, the older houses in the area from the 1860s which feature in this post were stucco, built by Daniel Tidey who went bust in 1870, when development in the 1870s was largely in red brick by William Willett.

Belsize Square, Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7m-63-positive_2400
Belsize Square, Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7m-63

I liked the Ladies bicycle parked at the bottom of the stairs, its wheels contrasting with the rectangular columns at the gate and base of the steps. It seemed a suitably old-fashioned steed, with caliper brakes and a wicked basket, held by a rather flimsy looking lock to the rail at the bottom of the steps. It was also a tonal contrast, although actually a rather rusty red colour. I also took a colour picture from an almost identical viewpoint which works well, with the green of the vegetation and some attractive muted colours on some of the doors.

Belsize Square, Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7m-65-positive_2400
Belsize Square, Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7m-65

The backs of these houses have an unusual rounded bay extending from basement to roof.

Belsize Park, Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7m-53-positive_2400
Belsize Park, Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7m-53

A grand set of steps up to the front door, now with three bells – most of these large properties have now been converted to flats. The tiles here are breaking up and a small area at right is now filled with flowers. There are bootscrapers at both side, probably rather more necessary in the days of horse-drawn traffic than now.

Belsize Park Gdns, Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7m-56
Belsize Park Gdns, Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7m-56

Two different framings of the same profusely growing plant – I think a false castor oil plant – and I can’t decide which I prefer. The leaves were beautifully lustrous dark green.

Belsize Park Gdns, Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7m-32-positive_2400
Belsize Park Gdns, Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7m-32

It is a beautiful plant, and has flowers and produces black seeds, but unlike the true castor oil plant it vaguely resembles, the seeds of Fatsia japonica are I think not particularly toxic.

Belsize Grove, Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7m-33-positive_2400
Belsize Grove, Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7m-33

The iron-work on this house is perhaps a little too much for my taste, both over-intricate and somehow too fat looking. I think it may now be rather more hidden by vegetation than when I made this picture around 33 years ago.

This was the last picture I made on this walk, probably as I made my way to Belsize Park Underground station on my way home.


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Digital Panoramas on the Thames Path

Wednesday, January 5th, 2022

Digital Panoramas on the Thames Path
I’ve long had an interest in panoramic photographs, both in taking them and also appreciating the work of well-known photographers who have made panoramic images. From the earliest days some photographers wanted to make pictures with a wider field of view than was possible with a normal camera and lenses, and the first patent for a specialised panoramic camera was filed in Austria in 1843, using a curved Daguerreotype plate and rotating lens.

The earliest existing panoramic photographs appear to be those by Friedrich von Martens made in the early 1840s – such as this example on Wikimedia dated from 1846. There are also paper prints from the same era, presumably made from calotype negatives. As well as making single exposures with an angle of view of around 150°, von Martens and others made panoramas using multiple exposures, often with normal lenses. Martens produced what was probably the first 360° panorama using three curved Daguerreotype plates.

Normally we use cameras with rectilinear lenses to render straight lines in the subject as straight lines in the picture. But as the distance from the lens centre to the film or sensor gets longer towards the edges and corners, the image magnification also increases. This begins to be noticeable with extreme wideangle lenses, although more of a problem with some subject matter than others.

Although I’ve worked with a full-frame lens at 12mm, I’ve found that for general purposes a practical limit is around 15-16mm with 18mm generally more useful, corresponding to an horizontal angle of view of 90°. Beyond that the image stretching usually becomes too noticeable.

The first really popular specialised panoramic film cameras were the 1899 #4 Kodak Panoram and the Circut, patented in 1904 and produced in a range of sizes until 1945. Some were still in use until recently for producing long roll photographs of perhaps 800 pupils sitting in rows on the school field. They rotated slowly enough for some students to run around the back of the group and appear at both ends. Cameras of this type were used to great effect by photographers including Josef Sudek.

Having made several multi-image panoramas and found the process limiting I bought my first rather more modest panoramic camera, a Japanese Widelux taking images on 35mm film in 1991. Later I bought a Russian Horizon which gave similar results, and a 120 format Chinese model. I still have these along with a Hasselblad X-Pan, not really a true panoramic camera, but using a panoramic format – with the standard lens it only gives a similar angle of view to a 28mm lens, and even with the 30mmm wideangle I mainly used only around a 90° angle of view.

These cameras were the main reason I continued using some film after going digital in 2002. But some years later I found a way of working with digital cameras to make panoramic images, using a fisheye lens and then ‘defishing’ this with software to give a similar image to those made with the swing lens cameras.

These pictures were taken seven years ago on a short walk along one of my favourite sections of the Thames Path in London, from Vauxhall to Wandsworth on Sunday 5th January 2014.

I took images handheld with a Nikon D800E using a Nikon 16mm f2.8 fisheye lens, and later converted them using an Equirectangular projection in PTGui software. I now generally use the more convenient Lightroom Export plug-in https://www.imadio.com/products/prodpage_hemi.aspx ‘Fisheye-Hemi’ from Imadio.

You can see larger images and many more from the walk at Thames Path Panoramas on My London Diary.


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An Olympic Bike Ride

Tuesday, January 4th, 2022

Businesses later demolished at the heart of the site for London’s 2012 Olympics

An Olympic Bike Ride: At the end of 2002 I finally bought a Brompton, a rather expensive folding bicycle which then cost me around £600. Perhaps not a lot for a new bike then and certainly not now, but rather more than the £13-7s6d or so the other bike I was still riding had cost in 1958.

Clays Lane Housing Co-operative – demolished for the Olympics

I’d been thinking about it for years, and it would certainly have been very useful for the work that I’d been doing around outer London in the previous decade, but I’ve only used it infrequently for my photography.

Eastway Cycle Circuit – lost to the Olympics

Though it’s a great way to get to places, taking it by train or underground and riding from a convenient station, Bromptons are a powerful magnet for bike thieves, so easy to put in a car boot or van, and selling at a relatively high price. It isn’t safe to lock them anywhere in public view when even the best cycle lock can only detain the well-equipped thief for around 30 seconds.

Bully Fen Wood – Community Woodland lost to the Olympics

So rather than using it for my general photography – mainly of protests and other events – I’ve used it for cycle rides on which I’ve taken photographs, both around where I live – it’s easier to jump on and off than my full-size bike – and in and around London.

Factory on Waterden Road – demolished for the Olympics

Thursday 4th January 2007 was a nice winter’s day, not too cold and blue skies with just a few clouds, and I went with the Brompton to Waterloo and then on the Jubilee Line to Stratford. Preparations had begun for the 2012 London Olympics and I wanted to see and photograph what I could of the changes that were taking place.

The footbridge has been kept in the new Olympic Park

My account of the day on My London Diary begins with my tongue-in-cheek suggestion that it would have been much preferable on environmental ground to shut down Heathrow and use that as the Olympic site, but goes on to describe a conversation I had with one of the residents at Clays Lane, then about to be demolished (spelling etc corrected.)

‘he talked of living in a fascist state, with lack of consultation and individual powerlessness, and of the games as having always had a militaristic overtone. hardly surprising there is little support for the games here, as initial promises that people from the Clays Lane Housing Co-operative would be rehoused in conditions “as good as, if not better than” their present estate were soon changed to “at least as good as in so far as is reasonably practicable.”‘

My London Diary

Work on the site seen from the Greenway

From Clays Lane I moved to the Eastway Cycle Track, already closed and fenced off – I decided against going through a gap in the fence to ride around it. The Community Woodland at Bully Fen Wood was also already closed. and I cycled on around the roads at the north of the site to Hackney Wick.

Pudding Mill River and Marshgate Lane – all now gone

Along Waterden Road I photographed some of the other industrial sites that were to be lost to the games, then turned along Carpenters Road and into Marshgate Lane, all soon to be fenced off and everthing on them destroyed. After taking pictures around Marshgate Lane I went back and into Hackney Wick, photographing the Kings Yard workshops on Carpenters Road soon to be demolished on my way.

Kings Yard – demolished for the Olympics

Hackney Wick to the west of the Lea Navigation is largely outside the Olympic compulsory purchase area, but some large areas of industry were scheduled for demolition and I took more pictures. I found the towpath here beside the navigation still open and rode down it to Stratford High Street, where more industry to the north of the road is also going.

Canary Wharf from Stratford Marsh

I spent some time going up the roads and paths here going from the High Street into Stratford Marsh which were still open, then went east along the top of the outfall sewer past areas also covered by the Olympic CPO.

St Thomas Creek, Bow Back Rivers – factories at left and right to be demolished

There was still a little light and I came down from the ‘Greenway’ and cycled down to Bow Creek from West Ham, going down the path on the west side of the creek to the Lower Lea Crossing. I wanted a picture showing the Pura Foods site then being demolished, but also made a number of other twilight pictures from this elevated viewpoint, and also some from the Silvertown Way viaduct as I made my way to Canning Town Station for the train home.

Pura Foods being demolished for London City Island development

Many more pictures from this ride on My London Diary, starting a little way down the January 2007 page.


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